Duncan Cardue was forty-eight years old and had spent the majority of those years buried in his work as a successful solicitor. Unmarried because he never seemed to have the time to invest in a relationship. A casualty of his own regimented lifestyle, buried in fusty old books and preferring their company to that of a living, breathing human being.
‘Your post Duncan. I’m sorry, it’s a bit late.’ His secretary burst through the door balancing his post and a cafetiere of coffee on a tray.
‘Thank you Pauline and how are you today?’ The cup and saucer clattered together as she put the tray down on his desk. Then, picking up the post, she placed it in front of him.
‘Oh, I am fine thank you. I’m just finishing off Mr Hargreave’s Will, then I will come back and we can go through the post.’ She bustled out of the office, but, he wasn’t listening. He had caught sight of an airmail envelope, postmarked Singapore.
A tingling sensation rushed through his whole being. He clasped the envelope between his trembling fingers, unaware that tiny beads of perspiration had broken out across his forehead. His heart thumped wildly beneath his ribcage as he turned the envelope over. Sender: Miss Lucinda Palmer. He snapped out of his reverie as the sound of rushing air escaped from his lips.
He held the envelope to his heart and released another, softer sigh. She hadn’t forgotten him. He sniffed the envelope, half expecting the smell of Opium, the perfume she always wore. There was a hint of something oriental, but it was more like tale-tale traces of musty Singaporean mailbags, rather than anything aromatic.
He got up, went over to the door and locked it. He wanted peace. No interruptions from the outside world when he read the letter from his one true love.
Lucinda was a daughter of a friend he had met at Cambridge and on her father’s recommendation, she had gone to Duncan for advice when her marriage fell apart. Married at eighteen, divorced at twenty-two. From the first time he set eyes on her, he was smitten. He was completely enchanted by her.
When the divorce was finalised, he took her out for dinner and he felt that they had got on so well. She was so grateful for everything he had done for her. The way she touched his hand and had kissed him, so tenderly, on the cheek. He was so sure she had feelings for him. So, he was surprised, as well as disappointed when she told him that she was going traveling for a while. I need to clear my head she had said. He had, reluctantly, agreed with her. He said he thought it would be a good idea, managing to convince himself, that she would come back to him.
With the precision of a surgeon, he slit open the envelope with a silver paper knife emblazoned with his family crest. He savoured the moment a little longer, as again he put the envelope to his nose, squeezing it open slightly, convinced he could smell her perfume. He slipped his fingers inside the envelope and pulled out a single sheet of paper. Raffles Singapore.
Dear Duncan. As you were so supportive and so very kind to me when was going through such a terrible time, I wanted you to be one of the first to know that I met someone in Australia. His name is Will and I know, he is the one. I am so very happy, but I am not going to be as impulsive as I was at eighteen, we will take our time. We are travelling back to the UK together now and no doubt Dad will be in touch with you soon. Love Lu.
In all the years as a professional man, he had never felt so thwarted. His hopes and dreams dashed by a little bird that had flown, but the legal eagle realized he had not lost his case because he had never had one in the first place.